Since its acquisition by National Semiconductor last November, x86 microprocessor maker Cyrix has refined its market position. The company has grown away from merely trying to compete with Intel, and has adopted National's system-on-a-chip strategy of integrating components on a miniature level. Dick Sanquini, senior vice-president of National, said the company wanted to dominate the markets for low-end desktops and mobile PCs, and information-access devices. Cyrix products to be released in the next year will include clock speeds of up to 333 MHz for its MediaGX range, which will cost less than Intel's Pentium chips. These are aimed at the sub-US$1,000 PC market, which Mr Sanquini calls the biggest threat and the biggest opportunity for the semiconductor industry. He said the threat was to Intel, while the opportunity was for other chip-makers. The sub-$1,000 PC was also changing consumer fixation on higher clock speeds. 'We want to effectively redirect consumer focus away from 'pure megahertz' and towards system performance and end-user experience,' Mr Sanquini said. As well as targeting the low-end desktop market, Cyrix chips are also being used in entry-level notebooks. Compaq, the world's largest PC maker, recently chose a 233 MHz MMX-enhanced MediaGX processor for its new Presario 1230 notebook - to cost about $1,699. At the higher end, Cyrix is launching the M-II processor, which is intended to give the same performance as Intel's Pentium II chips, but at a lower price. Camillo Martino, marketing director for Cyrix's desktop division, said a possible PC would include a 300 MHz M-II, 64 MB memory, 6.4 gb hard drive, 3D graphics, 32-speed CD-Rom drive and 56K modem, for $1,199. By contrast, Mr Martino said that due to the higher cost of the Pentium II chip, a PC of the same cost could only include a 300 MHz Pentium II, 32 MB of memory, 3.2 gb hard drive and 3D graphics, but no CD-Rom drive and no modem. Cyrix is also at the core of National's PC-on-a-chip strategy - integrating different functions needed to run a PC, including CPU, sound, graphics, power management and communications input/output controls on to a single processor. This way, a PC-maker only needs to add some Ram for a workable PC. The biggest market for the new chip - due to begin production in June next year - is expected to be among handheld devices for Internet access. 'Future growth is really going to come in devices that connect to the Internet,' Mr Sanquini said.